High school softball players’ ultimate dreams usually consist of league crowns, district victories and on rare occasions, state titles.
West Holmes High School Lady Knights’ first baseman Morgan Allen is preparing for what is substantially a lot more than that this coming year.
As Allen enters her junior campaign, the left-handed first baseman will be anticipating a once-in-a-lifetime chance to travel abroad to play the game she loves.
Allen will head to the Netherlands Jan. 16-24, 2019, to participate in the annual European Cup, a softball showcase that features top talent from around the world.
“I am very excited about this. It is going to be a tremendous opportunity for me,” Allen said.
Traveling distance for the slugging first baseman is nothing new. Allen has traveled to Maryland, West Virginia, South Carolina and Tennessee, but never before has she traveled this kind of distance.
“This is a little bit scary, but it is way more exciting than scary,” Allen said of her upcoming trip across the sea.
Allen said that over the past number of years she has talked to friends about the European Cup and decided to put an application in for the big event, not sure if she would ever hear back about it.
However, she was rewarded for her diligence, and after the team did background checks, Allen was accepted as part of the North American Select team on Monday, June 11.
Now Allen will square off and play with some of the best talent in the world, and she is anticipating a tough but exciting challenge.
“This is a higher level of competition, and it is going to be a real challenge, but I am looking forward to the challenge it brings,” Allen said.
North American Select will play in a tournament in the Netherlands in a series of games. The U.S. team is made up of high school athletes from 15 states and will compete against national teams from Italy, Germany, Switzerland, France, Holland, Great Britain and other nations in hopes of advancing to the finals.
While Allen is going to be a junior at West Holmes High School next fall, the European Cup will feature national teams with women up to the age of 25, so Allen will be one of the younger players to take the field.
North American Select is made up of high school-age girls, so that will add to the challenges that lie ahead for the team.
“After playing with 25-year-olds from national teams, I am hoping that the high school game will seem a lot slower,” Allen said.
The cup will take place in Schiedam, Netherlands, a town near Rotterdam. The Netherlands is the heart of fast-pitch softball in Europe, and between Italy and the Netherlands, these are the two countries that have the highest world ranking amongst all European nations.
Athletes for the North American Select are chosen first on personality, attitude and social skills. Being a talented player is great, but early North American teams were loaded with talent but lacked team cohesiveness, so the team changed how it selected its players, and having a positive attitude was a key ingredient. The team also seeks out references that gives them information on the players’ softball skills and their accomplishments.
The biggest change for Allen will be to adjust to the indoor style of play. This tournament features the use of a different ball, each batter starts with a one-and-one count, there are ceiling rules and teams put just eight players on the field instead of nine. The base length also is different, and there are numerous other adjustments Allen will have to make in a game that is built for speed and a far cry from the high school game she is used to playing.
In addition to the softball play, Allen also will be immersed in the culture of Europe during her time there. The trip allows the visiting players to delve into the history, culture and some social way of life.
The players will tour the Netherlands, visiting Anne Frank’s home, and explore Paris by touring Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, Arc de Triomphe and more historical venues.
“This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that is so much more than softball,” Allen said. “I am really excited to represent my country and to represent West Holmes softball in getting to go to Europe to play. I thank the community for all of the support for this exciting adventure.”
Before she gets to the Netherlands, Allen will have to raise the funds necessary that will allow her to participate, a sum that will be in the range of $4,500.
Allen has already created a GoFundMe page, which can be viewed by logging on to the GoFundMe website and searching “Morgan’s European Cup Experience.”
Allen said her dad Ron also will put together a chicken barbecue fundraiser, and she is batting around some other fundraiser ideas to raise the necessary funds.
Anyone wishing to send a donation for her trip via mail may do so by sending donations to Morgan Allen, 5262 state Route 514, Glenmont, OH 44628.